Schools fail to tackle bullying of kids with autism – scandal
New survey reveals more than 60% of children with autism have suffered from bullying at mainstream schools and the problem is being largely ignored
A disturbing national survey of more than 900 parents of children with autism in the UK shows they’re facing major problems as a result of their child’s condition. Of those questioned, 61% reported that their child had been bullied at school as a result of their Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC). Even more disturbing was the fact that schools are simply not addressing the problem with 73% of parents saying it had either been ignored or was poorly handled.
The startling survey results also reveal that a huge 93% of parents believe their children’s progress at school has been seriously affected, and 96% saying that their child’s ASC makes them much more vulnerable to bullying and teasing by other children.
It seems that parents of children with ASC are fighting a constant battle as they try to secure a good education for their offspring as well as protect them from some of the harsher aspects of everyday life – 89% of the survey sample said that their children found it difficult to mix with their classmates out of school hours.
It is estimated that there are over 500,000 people with ASC in the UK and this latest survey suggests that the problem has been growing for some time with 88% of respondents saying that they believed the number of children and adults with ASC has increased significantly in the last decade.
The research also revealed that having a child with ASC can put a real strain on a couple and other members of the family. 74% said that having a child with ASC had a negative effect on the parents and other members of the family and 65% said there was a negative effect on their marriage or relationship.
The survey was sponsored by author and leading ASC campaigner Anna Kennedy. In 1999 Anna Kennedy, as the mother of two boys, Patrick and Angelo, one with Autism and the other Asperger syndrome, simply wanted the best education for her sons, but after being refused entry by a staggering 26 special needs schools she decided to take matters into her own hands and started her own school- Hillingdon Manor in Middlesex.
The school has since been taken over by specialist education provider Hillcrest who are expanding their range of special needs schools to meet the growing demand from parents with ASC.
Commenting on the survey results Anna said.
“I believe this is a national scandal. This survey makes such depressing reading and shows that the problem of ASC is getting more prevalent in Britain and that we are not doing enough to support children and their families in this situation. The results also confirm the tremendous strain this condition places on parents who need special carers and educators to help with their children.
“I urge the Government not to ignore this problem because it is not going away and is getting worse. We must increase the number of special needs schools or facilities within mainstream establishments if we are going to tackle it effectively.
I realise the Government is cutting back on everything at the moment but this problem is a real time bomb and if we don’t address it now we will have a growing generation of adults who are unable to integrate in or contribute properly to society. If we don’t do something now we will face much higher costs in the future when we have to care for those with ASC.”
The survey was conducted online and generated over 900 responses from a wide range of people who are affected by ASC including: parents; carers and teachers.
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